It’s not an easy transition when role reversals take place between children and aging parents. You’ve heard the saying ‘once a parent, always a parent’ or stronger yet, ‘once a mother, always a mother’. At some point in time it does become the adult child’s obligation to honor their parents by making sure they are safe and well taken for. By the time your Elderly parents have lived a full life accomplishing much, overcoming many obstacles, carving out and obtaining many dreams and goals, haven’t they become very strong and independent people! Especially if they have lived through a great depression or a world war like my parents, they are also very stoic and just don’t talk about their personal challenges with their children. If your parents live in a different city or state and most of your assessments are done over the phone, you might be surprised when you actually arrange a visit. I know when my husband used to call my mother in-law in Florida, she always said ‘everything is fine’, ‘I’m doing well’ until we received a call from a state social worker giving us the ultimatum that she either get 24 hour care stat or she was going into a nursing home immediately. I’m not trying to scare you, the reality is that situations can change rapidly with the senior population and being prepared in advance is definitely the less stressful and preferable path.
I’d like to help you give the gift of being able to accurately assess your parent’s needs when you’re visiting with them for a few days. Keep in mind that the longer you’re with your parents the more opportunity you’ll have to see a complete picture emerge. Below is a useful checklist you can use as a guide to help determine if your elderly love one is still thriving living alone or if normal daily activities have become increasingly difficult to manage. There are many tall tell signs that will give you an accurate understanding of how your parents are doing. How best to communicate your findings to your parents and bring them on board with helpful strategies is another article in itself but for now, here’s how you can make an informed decision on whether it’s time to bring in a trained professional to make a formal assessment accompanied by specific advice on how to handle a given situation.
Here is a checklist that you can use as a guide:
- Do they appear poorly groomed — unshaven, hair dirty or unkempt or wearing dirty clothes when they always use to practice good hygiene and dressed well?
- Has your loved one lost weight?
- Does their breath smell or do they have body odor?
- Is there food in cabinets or the refrigerator; if so are they outdated or spoiled?
- Are dishes piled in the sink, carpets dirty, furniture dusty?
- Is the house cluttered and the yard a mess?
- Have they lost interest in going out or in activities they once enjoyed?
- Do they seem unsteady or afraid to use stairs?
- Have you noticed changes in their normal behavior or routine?
- Do they confuse easily, show signs of increased forgetfulness?
- How do they handle going to the market or being in crowds?
- If you trust the neighbors, do they have any insight on how your parent is doing?
- Are there piles of mail unopened, how are bills being handled?
How is your Mom or Dad performing these basic Activities of Daily Living?
Bathing – including the ability to get in and out of a shower or tub
Eating – including the ability to cut food or butter bread
Dressing – including the ability to choose appropriate attire
Toileting – including the ability to transfer on and off the toilet
Transferring – the ability to get in and out of bed or a chair
How is your Mom or Dad performing these basic Instrumental Activities of Daily Living?
Cleaning, Preparing meals, Taking medication
Performing yard work
Walking outside the home
Using the telephone
Enjoy your time with family this Holiday Season and please be aware to evaluate how your elderly parents, grandparents or neighbors are doing. They often won’t admit that they need assistance to continue living and aging gracefully. Your reaching out and observing might make all the difference. You can always give us a call at Reliant In-Home Care, we are happy to assist or be a good resource for any senior care needs.
Serving San Diego Since 2005!